When Gavin Aubert was planning to drop out of Auburn Senior High School to work, his best friend, Dwight A. Clark, pushed him to stay.
If he left high school, Clark told Aubert, “‘Your life would be over.’”
“He pretty much carried me on his shoulders,” driving Aubert to classes so they could graduate together in June, Aubert said.
But now, Clark’s life is over.
Friends and acquaintances cried over the news that Clark’s body had been found Wednesday in Bellingham Bay.
Clark, 18, was remembered as an avid skateboarder, an honor student, generous to others and “a good kid.”
About 150 students held a moment of silence before school Thursday at a flagpole outside Auburn Senior High. Friends gathered and skated after school at Brannan Skate Park in Auburn, where Clark skated and loved to shoot video of others skating. A vigil is planned for Saturday at the park.
Clark, a freshman at Western Washington University, likely was in Bellingham Bay during the 10 days in which he was missing and died in the water, according to preliminary findings released by the Whatcom County medical examiner Thursday.
Dr. Gary Goldfogel performed an autopsy and found no signs of inflicted trauma or external or internal injuries on Clark’s body, according to police.
Goldfogel has not ruled on the cause and manner of Clark’s death and will need to complete further studies, including a toxicology report, police said.
The findings likely rule out the possibility that a crime occurred, spokesman Mark Young said.
Aubert and others were left to wonder now not where their friend was, but why he died.
“The sleepness nights of wondering where Dwight is are over,” said Aubert, who was among searchers looking for him in Bellingham.
Aubert, 18, and Clark were business partners as well as friends. They had begun producing a line of skateboarding clothing, including T-shirts, called “Forevergreen.”
Omar Garcia, 15, who skated with Clark, remembered him as smart and “never sad.” His death left Garcia depressed.
“I just want to know what happened to him,” said Garcia, a sophomore at Auburn Senior High.
For Michael Green, a freshman at Auburn Mountainview High School, Clark was more than a fellow skakeboarder at Brannan Park.
“He was like my older brother,” Green said.
Clark gave Green the black Nike shoes he was wearing Thursday.
“He always helped me when I needed stuff like food or clothes,” said Green, 14. “He would help me skate. He would always cheer me up.”
Dakota Mounts, 12, turned her skateboard into a tribute to her former neighbor. She attached Clark’s picture to the back, surrounded by etched messages, including “RIP Dwight Clark always and forever.”
The mood has been gloomy at Auburn Senior High since the news about Clark’s body being found spread Wednesday.
About a dozen students sought help from counselors to deal with their grief, said principal Richard Zimmerman.
“People all over school knew him and liked him,” Zimmerman said. “He was a good kid.”
RaeLyn Clark had brought her son to Bellingham to start college about a week before he disappeared.
Detectives will continue looking into how and under what circumstances Clark got into the water.
“Where do we go from here?” Young asked. “The safest way to answer that question is that there’s still some things we’d like to look at. We will continue to look into this. It’s still an open case.”
Goldfogel confirmed that the body was Clark’s through dental records and the driver’s license, credit cards, student identification and cell phone found on the body.
Clark, 18, last was seen leaving a party in Bellingham at 2 a.m. Sept. 26. His cell phone sent a blank text message that was traced to downtown about 2:40 that morning.
The Bellingham Herald contributed to this report.